Ouvroir de literature potentielle (Oulipo) [Workshop of potential literature] By Lapprand, Marc Didier
Oulipo, Ouvroir de littérature potentielle [Workshop of potential literature] is a dynamic and even flamboyant group of writers, poets, and mathematicians who strive to elaborate new constraints, which they employ in order to explore and enhance the potentiality of language. Oulipo was born in 1960 thanks to the union of two complementary minds: that of François Le Lionnais (1901–1984), a mathematician and renowned chess specialist, and that of Raymond Queneau (1903–1976), a famed novelist and poet. The group, now over 30 strong, gives public readings, facilitates writing workshops, and participates in many other public events, including radio programs on France-Culture. One of the key factors of the group’s unequalled longevity is precisely that Oulipo is not an avant-garde assigned to topple previous domineering currents. The most celebrated Oulipians, other than the two founding members, are Georges Perec (1936–1982), Jacques Roubaud (1932--) and Jacques Jouet (1947--). Other icons include Marcel Duchamp (1887–1968) and Italo Calvino (1923–1985).